Tue, May 15, 2012 - Page 8 News List


Austerity is wrong-headed

It is rather unfortunate that your recent editorial unthinkingly endorses the current stampede toward austerity measures as the panacea to economic problems (“Election results threaten the euro,” May 9, page 8). In fact, the essential ingredient of the European bailouts is to protect Goldman Sachs and Franco-German private lenders from the moral hazard of lending too much to the wrong people.

No one but a simpleton believes that the credit extended by the European Central Bank is anything but computer manipulation that does not represent new real money. However, it does transfer liability to sovereign countries whose populations must struggle to meet unreasonable demands. The global economic Ponzi scheme continues unabated.

No wonder voters are rightly rejecting these phony nostrums. Austerity will reduce populations to poverty and cause very real suffering, while the rich will take advantage of deflated prices to sweep up public and private assets in these countries at fire sale prices. Only the “1 percent” will benefit.

As for solving the real problem of deficits, the austerity measures will push these economies further toward the brink with little chance of recovery for a very long time.

John Hanna


Seeing red over traffic lights

I would like to add my two cents to the recent discussion on Taiwan’s dangerous traffic.

To me, about the worst things are those traffic lights that show you how many seconds you have left to cross an intersection.

This system is pure madness and facilitates carnage.

What does a driver who approaches an intersection do when he sees that the light will turn red in 5 seconds?

He will speed up, of course. The vehicle will enter the intersection much faster, which arguably is the least desired effect any traffic management system could possibly have.

I sincerely hope that researchers from the National Taiwan University, Academia Sinicia, etc, will find out how many people here are annually crippled, widowed or orphaned due to this stupidity.

Jens Kastner


Ma’s nicknames

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has probably earned the most nicknames of any president. These nicknames vividly reflect his personality and/or performance.

When former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) was in power, he nominated Ma to run for mayor of Taipei and praised Ma as a “New Taiwanese” with great expectations. Lee later called Ma the “Underwear Runner” — a jogger wearing Ma underwear or an underwear-wearing fugitive running away in a hurry.

Ma has the endearing nickname of “Little Horse Brother” that won him millions of votes in mayoral and presidential elections. Lee and former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) also have the endearing names of “A-hui” and “A-bian,” respectively. The nickname in this form can also mean contempt, depending on the context. In addition, Lee has the nicknames of “Long Chin” and “Father of Democracy.”

In Taiwanese, “jeou” in Ma’s given name can be pronounced as “giu” or “gao.” The latter has a double meaning (“nine” or “dog”). Ma and Bian (from Chen’s given name) can be combined into a Chinese character that means “cheating.”

The Chinese always call Ma “mister” instead of “president.” Many Taiwanese call Ma “Regional Chief” since Ma says Taiwan is “a region of China.” Ma seldom listens to Taiwanese and often does things behind their backs and thus has gained the nickname “Emperor Ma.”

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